Summary: How we handle lifes difficulties determines the type of Christian character we demostrate to others.
First Baptist Church
August 5, 2001
James 1:1-8, 12
I’m going to start out with a trick question, who wrote the book of
James? I probably made you second guess yourself, but James is
the author. For the next few weeks we are going to dig deep into
this book. James exhorts us to ‘authentic Christians.’ It’s believed
that James is the brother of Jesus. If you recall from the gospels,
nobody in Jesus’ family believed He was the Messiah and they
thought Jesus had lost His mind. Sometime after Jesus’
resurrection, James, his mother, Mary, and possibly other family
members came to believe Jesus was the Messiah. Paul wrote that
Jesus even appeared to James after the resurrection (1 Corinthians
15:7). This was the first New Testament book to be written,
around 48 - 50 A.D. James was stoned to death because of His
faith in the year 62 A.D.
Verse 1 tells us that James wrote this book to the Jewish believers.
Because of persecution, many Jewish people who came to believe
in Jesus as the Messiah had to leave their homes and were
scattered throughout the region. So, James wrote this letter to
teach and encourage these persecuted Christians.
I found the following story on the Internet: someone let their pet
ferret play in a pile of clothes in the laundry basket. The ferret was
having a great time frolicking in the clothes. But things got bad, real
bad, and real fast. One minute he was jumping and playing, the
next second he became part of the laundry.
The mom picked up a wad of clothes, tossed it into the washing
machine, and the ferret was part of that wad. The lid was shut and
all was dark.
Can you imagine what went through the ferrets mind as the water
poured in? When the churning water finally stopped and began to
drain out the ferret must’ve thought he made it . . . then the rinse
cycle began. And just when he thought the worse was over . . . the
spin cycle began.
Later that night, the little ferret was found in the washing machine,
alive, wet and confused. I wonder if that little ferret has ever
played in the laundry basket again?
Can you relate to that ferret? Most of us can. One minute your life
is going great, and like the ferret, you’re singing and thinking it
doesn’t get any better than this.
Then all of the sudden, out of nowhere, your world becomes a
place of spinning darkness. Your boss tells you you’re laid off.
Your spouse tells you, ‘I don’t love you anymore.’ A policeman
comes to your door and asks you to come to the station. The
phone rings and you hear the words "there’s been an accident."
The doctor tells you ‘there’s nothing they can do for you.’ Or your
mother calls and tells you your dad had a heart attack.
You didn’t see it coming, but in the blink of an eye, you find
yourself sucked into the darkness and your world begins to spin
hopelessly out of control. If you haven’t been there, James tells us
someday you will.
I’ve been there. It was June 22, 1990, I was dancing in the
drizzling rain on an island somewhere off the coast of Stockholm,
Sweden. A friend came down to get me to tell me that I had a
phone call. I knew nobody in my family would have known that
phone number and they weren’t calling to say hello. They were
calling to say ‘mom has cancer and is on a respirator and they are
keeping her alive until you come home.’
Think about this past week, Korey Stringer of the Minnesota
Vikings died from heat stroke and a Northwestern University
safety, Rashidi Wallace had an asthma attack and died.
None of these were supposed to happen, but they did and our
world feels like it is spinning out of control. When that happens,
James has challenging words, yet they are words that can bring
In verse 2, James tells us "whenever you face trials consider it pure
joy." Notice that James doesn’t say if you face trials, but when you
face trials. Trials, hardships and difficulties are part of life. If you
think your life is going to be smooth and calm, you’re fooling
yourself. Jesus warned His disciples, "in the world you will have
trouble" (John 16:33) and Paul said, "We must go through many
hardships to enter the kingdom of God" (Acts 14:22).
Doesn’t it sound absurd, be joyful when you face trials? Come on.
It sounds good on paper, but not in reality. But, remember,
friends, James is about building character. We know people who
have endured and people who have given up. Those who give up